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Junior Achievement, Cumming's Alliance Academy site plans released

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, an update was given on construction projects in Forsyth County high schools

• West: Band/choral will move into new addition during spring break in April
• Alliance Academy: Paving completed; structural steel bring placed
• Denmark: Paving will begin the week of Feb. 20

CUMMING -- Preliminary site renderings for the Junior Achievement Mike and Lynn Cottrell Discovery Center at North Georgia, which will be on the property of a new alternative public high school, have been released.

Forsyth County Schools Director of College and Career Development Valery Lowe presented the site plans to the Board of Education at a work session Tuesday with a memorandum of understanding between the center and the school district.

The JA Discovery Center will be located inside the Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County, a career and workforce development high school scheduled to open in August 2018 on Lanier 400 Parkway near Ga. 400 in Cumming.

The center will open in tandem with the high school, thanks to a $3.5 million donation from Mike and Lynn Cottrell of Dahlonega. The philanthropist couple has established scholarships funds and had the College of Business named after them at the University of North Georgia.

It will be the third center in Georgia; two are already established in Atlanta and Gwinnett.

Like the other two centers, the Cumming location will house JA BizTown and JA Finance Park, immersive simulations where middle school students explore industries and careers and obtain foundational knowledge in select business and finance operations.

On Tuesday, Lowe presented preliminary concept imagery to the board, which she said is subject to change.

“You all knew this was kind of going to be an ebb and flow as we decided the number of storefronts and what we wanted our facility to look like,” Lowe said. “These are not set in stone, but we tried to capture some landmarks of the communities in northeast Georgia and the area of Hall, Lumpkin, Dawson and Forsyth.”

Storefront design will be largely based on company branding but will follow a uniform construction outlay.

Atlanta’s JA BizTown and Finance Park include Chick-fil-A, Bank of America, the UPS Store and Delta as some of its storefronts.

The north Georgia center does not yet have any contracted storefronts, in part because the memorandum of understanding was only recently completed.

Lowe said while necessary, it is simply a formal document outlining what FCS and the center are individually responsible for regarding operations and management.

According to the document, FCS will provide: location and space, advisement on project design and development, a guarantee that FCS will implement the JA BizTown and JA Finance Park curriculum in classrooms before students visit the facility, bus transportation to and from the facility and the annual evaluation of JA programs.

Other counties served by the north Georgia center, such as Hall, Dawson and Cherokee, will be required to provide their own transportation.

JA will provide: capital funding, management of the overall project and design with input from FCS, operation of the center, corporate partners, operational funding, curriculum development and improvements and teacher training, the document stated.

“This is really a starting point for us to be able to then use this [agreement] with other school districts for them to commit their students,” Lowe said. “This was the catapult that had to start that process and not in lieu of any long-term lease. All those things will come once we get this in place and start rolling.”